LVC Report: South Africans Knocked Down a Peg in Valencia

Team Shosholoza lost matches against Emirates Team New Zealand and Desafio Espanol in Flights 6 and 7 of the Louis Vuitton Cup.

ACReportApr25
Stuart Streuli

VALENICA, Spain-A day after its upset of Luna Rossa Challenge, Team Shosholoza was brought back to earth, losing two matches. Of the two, it's the second that may come back to haunt them. Losing to Emirates Team New Zealand in the first flight wasn't a surprise and can't be seen as a disappointment. ETNZ skipper Dean Barker was aggressive in the pre-start, got the side he wanted off the line and from there ETNZ refused to offer up even a single opportunity for the South Africans to get back into the race.Against Desafio Español, however, Shosholoza had the lead on the first beat, proving its boat is every bit the equal of the Spanish craft upwind. The two boats rounded bow to stern, but Shosholoza was unable to set quickly due to a winch problem and the Spanish sailed low, and took control of the match. Later on the first run, Shosholoza appeared to have the position to pin Desafio Español out past the port jibe layline, but the Spanish were able to sneak enough ahead to jibe cleanly and lead the South Africans into the leeward gate.Desafio Español almost lost all of its lead, and possibly more, as mastman Enrique Cameselle went in the water during the leeward mark rounding. But Cameselle was able to hang on to a corner of the spinnaker and then, with the help of his crewmates, scramble back on board without the boat missing a beat. From there, helmsman Karol Jablonski and tactician John Cutler were able to stretch away, building a healthy lead by the finish for their second win of the day. Other two win teams included Luna Rossa, Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia, and Emirates Team New Zealand. BMW Oracle Racing and Victory Challenge each had byes today, both won their sole race."It's a bit of a low," said Shosholoza skipper Mark Sadler. "But we know we sailed fairly well. We were a little off the pace with the conditions."A day after losing two matches, Luna Rossa responded with a pair of wins over Areva Challenge and +39 Challenge. But neither was as easy as what would be expected from a match pairing a supposed member of the Big 3 and a boat from the bottom third in the standings. On Tuesday, after a close loss to BMW Oracle Racing and the surprising loss to Team Shosholoza, trimmer Joe Newton talked about the confidence the team had in its boat and how there was no reason to worry. There was also a rumor floating around that Luna Rossa had underestimated the South Africans and sailed with some of its B team. Main trimmer Jonathan McKee was one of three sailors (the others being grinder Emanuele Marino and mid-bowman Max Sirena) who sailed against BMW Oracle Racing in the second match on Tuesday but didn't sail against Team Shosholoza.However, having seemingly been served its wake-up call, the team was again underwhelming. While it won boat races, in neither did ITA-94 show the ability to break away from boats that other top challengers have easily dusted, beating +39 by 1:22 and Areva by 33 seconds.If the order has been reset at all after seven of 22 flights it seems to now have BMW Oracle Racing and Emirates Team New Zealand legging away from a group of five teams fighting for the third and fourth spot: Luna Rossa, Team Shosholoza, Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia, Victory Challenge, and Desafio Español 2007. The standings show Luna Rossa just one point behind ETNZ for second, but Luna Rossa has yet to have a bye, and has three difficult matches to close out Round Robin 1.Dean Barker of ETNZ said the team is pleased to be near the head of the pack with a 6-1 record, but that no race is easy in this fleet and the team can't afford to get overconfident. "What we've seen is a lot of these teams are a lot more competitive now, it's not just the three teams that have been dominant over the last couple of years," said Barker. "We're just focusing on getting to the semis at this stage. You drop your guard and suddenly the pressure will be on just to move into the top four."

Flight 6North CourseLuna Rossa Challenge d. Areva Challenge by 0:33Victory Challenge d. +39 Challenge by 0:55South CourseDesafio Español 2007 d. China Team by 2:01Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia d. United Internet Team Germany by 0:24Emirates Team New Zealand d. Team Shosholoza by 1:23Flight 7North CourseBMW Oracle Racing d. Areva Challenge by 2:54Luna Rossa Challenge d. +39 Challenge by 1:22South CourseEmirates Team New Zealand d. United Internet Team Germany by 1:03Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia d. China Team by DNFDesafio Español 2007 d. Team Shosholoza by 0:57Overall Standings Through 7 FlightsBMW Oracle Racing 15 pointsEmirates Team New Zealand 14 pointsLuna Rossa Challenge 13 pointsMascalzone Latino-Capitalia 12 pointsDesafio Español 2007 11 pointsVictory Challenge 10 pointsTeam Shosholoza 8 pointsAreva Challenge 5 pointsUnited Internet Team Germany 3 points+39 Challenge 2 pointsChina Team 1 point